Steve Virgona, World #2 and Senior Professional at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia, squared off against Tennis & Racquet Club member and World #5 Tim Chisholm in Boston on March 3rd to kick off the 2008 Eliminator Series for the World Championship. An overcapacity crowd of 140 was geared up to watch a rematch of the 2006 Eliminator, which Tim won 7-2.
The match started off with both players exchanging floor shots and galleries and working to establish a rhythm and feel for the match. The first three games lasted over half and hour. Tim went up 4-1 and the T&R home crowd hoped he would close out the set but Steve improved as the match progressed and quickly took advantage of some mistakes to tie it up at 4-4. Steve turned extremely well on Tim’s railroad serves and forced effectively with his forehand. On the service side of the court, Steve deployed a combination of boomerangs and caterpillars and was able to neutralize Tim’s return by serving well and getting into position quickly and efficiently. Steve ran down everything and played steady when he needed to and went on to take the next eight out of ten games to go up 6/4, 6/2.
The third set saw the momentum change as Tim started hitting his shots and dictating more of the play. Steve’s unforced errors were matched by Tim finding his mark and Tim went up quickly. Tim looked to close out the third but Steve mounted a comeback to nearly tie it up. Tim kept his focus though and staved Steve off and took the third by a score of 6/4.
With the T&R home crowd rooting Tim on and hoping he could continue his momentum into the 4th set, it was Steve who turned it up a notch. With both players contesting each point furiously, Steve went up 4-2 with good returns, some unforced errors from Tim, and steady smart play. With Steve applying the pressure and looking like he would close it out, the match seesawed again when Tim tied it at four all. With the match now incredibly tense and nervewracking for the spectators, both players then exchanged close long games to go five all. Unfortunately, at a crucial period at five all, Tim experienced severe cramping in his calf and play was momentarily delayed as he tried stretch and loosen things up. With continuous play in effect and Tim hobbled, Steve went up 30 love. Tim, however, in a hoped-for Kirk Gibson moment, then managed to make two main wall forces to tie it up at 30 all to roars of the T&R crowd. Unfortunately that was all she wrote though as Steve went on to close out the last two points and take the third set, and match, 6/5.
Thanks go to T&R Head Professional Jimmy Burke for marking, Assistant Professional Ken Jacobs of Tuxedo for acting as Match Referee and International World Championship Committee (IWCC) Representative, and members of the T&R Tennis Committee for their work on the match. Final score was Virgona 6/4, 6/2, 4/6, 6/5 and match time was approximately 2:45.
– Jeremy Wintersteen (T&R Tennis Committee Member)